This fiery Calabrian chili aioli is THE sauce you need to elevate your meals. Imagine, creamy mayo + spicy Calabrian chili + aromatic garlic = YUMS!

Calabrian chili aioli dripping from a spoon to create a beautiful marbled pool in the middle.

In this post you’ll learn:

Close-up of a spoonful of Calabrian chili mayo, with the specks of oil being visible.

Why You Will Love Calabrian Aioli/Mayo

  • 🌶️ A hot twist on the classic aioli, with a spicy kick of Calabrian chili peppers
  • 👩‍🍳 Super easy to make, with no real cooking required
  • ⏱️ Done in just 3 minutes!
  • 🌟 The addition of Calabrian chili also makes this chili aioli gourmet-like with so little effort
  • 🌱 Vegan-friendly recipe for both vegans and non-vegans alike!
Close-up of a bowl of Cablarian chili mayo with nice swirls on a white marble.

What is chili aioli made of?

Chili aioli typically consists of garlic, mayonnaise, and some type of chili such as the Calabrian chili peppers used in this Calabrian aioli. Some recipes might also call for lemon juice (like my recipe here), and others might call for additional ingredients like black pepper, salt, and parsley. So this just means that what exactly goes in chili aioli depends on the person/brand making it! Even my Sambal Aioli can be considered chili aioli since sambal is a type of Indonesian chili sauce!

Ingredients

  • Garlic: Adds a punch of flavor when finely minced. Sub 1 garlic clove with 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder if you’d like.
  • Mayo: Either plant-based or regular mayo, it creates a creamy base for this recipe. Feel free to opt for an oil-free version using my 3-Minute Vegan Mayonnaise (using either Silken Tofu or Cashews)!
  • Chopped Calabrian chili peppers in oil: Adds a spicy Italian kick, with an adjustable spiciness level according to taste.
    • Feel free to buy the whole Calabrian chile peppers and chop them up yourself. You definitely want to add a bit of it, do a taste test and see if you want to add more chili. The spiciness levels vary greatly by brand so don’t skip the taste testing!
    • Do NOT use dried Calabrian chili flakes as the flavor will not blend well
    • Note that the Calabrian chili sold in the US tends to be milder in flavor than those sold in Europe (which is what I used here) so if you don’t buy yours in Europe, I recommend using more chili!
  • Lemon juice: Adds a tangy brightness which rounds off the flavor of this Calabrian chili aioli!
Ingredients for Calabrian chili aioli or mayonnaise with labels: lemon, Calabrian chili, garlic, and mayo.

What is Calabrian chili paste made of?

Calabrian chili paste is primarily made from Calabrian chili peppers and oil, resulting in a spicy and flavorful condiment. Some brands might also add salt and vinegar.

Calabrian peppers themselves are cultivated in Calabria (a region in Southern Italy). In Italian, it’s called Peperoncino Calabrese so they’re both essentially the same thing, just in different languages. Calabrian peppers have a smoky flavor profile with a bit of fruitiness. If you’re looking for the closest Calabrian chili substitute, you can try using Chipotle peppers, Habanero peppers, Ancho chiles, Jalapeños, or Guajillos, as explained in this Calabrian Pepper Substitute article by Pepper Scale.

A jar of chopped Calabrian chili in oil with the brand name of Delizie di Calabria.

How spicy is Calabrian chili?

Calabrian chili peppers can vary in spiciness, but typically range from moderate to hot on the Scoville scale (25,000 to 40,000 Scoville heat units, as documented by Pepper Scale). Both Calabrian chili sauce and Calabrian chili oil inherit the heat from the Calabrian chili peppers used, so they can be quite spicy although as you might have guessed, that depends on how spicy the chili used is and how much chili is used.

Step-by-step Instructions

Peel and finely mince your garlic clove. You can also grate or microplane it for a finer texture.

Stir all ingredients until you reach a uniform consistency. The oil might not be fully mixed in (you can still see small specks of oil, like in the pictures), but this is completely alright!

Taste and add more chili to your Calabrian pepper aioli if desired, then enjoy!

Top Tips

🌶️ Adjust chili to taste: Different brands & forms of Calabrian chili peppers vary in heat level. I notice that the Calabrian chili sold in the US tends to be milder in flavor than those sold in Europe (which is what I used in this recipe). So if you bought your chili in the US, you might really want to add more chili! As always, start with a small amount, taste, and add more gradually until you reach your desired level of spiciness!

⏳ Let it sit: Let the chili aioli sit in the fridge for at least 5-10 minutes before serving, if you have that extra time. This allows the flavors to meld together beautifully.

🪴 Herb it up: Feel free to add your favorite herb like parsley, oregano, or basil to jazz this Calabrian mayo up! Adding 1 teaspoon should do the trick for this recipe!

Stirring Calabrian chili mayo using a spoon, with the chili jar in the background.

Serving Suggestions

Dipping Sauce: The most ‘basic’ application of aioli; serve alongside crispy roasted potatoes, (sweet) potato fries, breaded tofu/tempeh, (vegan) crab cakes, or even raw veggie sticks for a flavorful dip.

Spread: Slather it onto sandwiches, bagels (such as in my Avocado Bagel Sandwich or my Hummus Veggie Bagel recipes), wraps, burgers, or my favorite…grilled (vegan) cheese for an extra kick of flavor.

Drizzle drizzle: Use this Calabrian pepper aioli as a topping for grilled corn on the cob, baked potatoes, or roasted cauliflower steaks to add a burst of flavor! You can even drizzle them on top of your pizza or tacos!

Speaking of corn and potatoes, you might enjoy going through this List of 20 Yellow Vegetables (including pictures & uses in cooking!)

Salad and Bowls Dressing: Thin your Calabrian mayonnaise out with a little water or lemon juice and use it as a creamy dressing for salads or grain bowls, such as this Vegetarian Poké Bowl.

A bowl of Calabrian chili pepper aioli taken from above, with the spoon handle sticking out.

Storage and Meal Prep Instructions

Storage: Store any leftover Calabrian Chili Aioli in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Some water might separate and gather on top. This is normal so simply stir before serving it again!

Meal prep: This Calabrian mayonnaise is perfect for meal prep since it has more time to sit in the fridge so the flavor can blend even better! Make a batch at the beginning of the week and use it throughout for sandwiches, salads, or as a dip for veggies (see the Serving Suggestions section above for meal inspiration).

Freezing: Aioli does NOT freeze well since the texture will change. So please refrain from freezing it.

A spoonful of Calabrian chili pepper mayonnaise, with more mayo in the background.

FAQ

Is aioli the same as mayonnaise?

While both (regular, non-vegan) aioli and mayonnaise are creamy condiments made from emulsifying oil with ingredients like egg yolks or alternative binders, aioli traditionally includes garlic but not mayonnaise. Another difference is that aioli was traditionally made just with olive oil and garlic, without egg. Whereas mayo typically contains egg, unless they’re vegan of course!

What’s the difference between garlic sauce and aioli?

Aioli is a type of garlic sauce, but not all garlic sauce is aioli. For instance, there is toum (a Lebanese garlic sauce), or you can also make garlic sauce using butter, (Greek) yogurt, cream, or sour cream as the base which makes it different from aioli.

Is aioli always made with garlic?

Traditional aioli is made with just olive oil and garlic so yes, most of the time, aioli is made with garlic. However, as time progresses, not all aioli contain garlic anymore (such as my BBQ Aioli/Mayo or Smoked Paprika Aioli/Mayo), so it also depends on who is cooking the recipe.

Does aioli always have raw egg?

Since traditional aioli is made with only olive oil and garlic, it does not always contain raw eggs. Eggs are sometimes added to speed up the process of making an aioli, which is actually quite a common thing to do nowadays.

Is harissa similar to Calabrian chili?

They might taste similar, but they are different. Harissa is a North African chili paste, often blended with spices such as garlic, cumin, coriander, and caraway seeds. On the other hand, Calabrian chili is a type of chili from Calabria, a region in South Italy.

Calabrian chili aioli dripping from a spoon to a white ramekin, forming nice patterns.

Want More Specialty Sauces & Dips?

3-Minute Calabrian Chili Pepper Aioli (Calabrian Chili Mayo)

Calabrian chili pepper aioli dripping from a spoon into a white sauce bowl.
This fiery Calabrian chili aioli is THE sauce you need to elevate your meals. Imagine, creamy mayo + spicy Calabrian chili + aromatic garlic = YUMS!
Jem @ The Fruity Jem
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes
Serving Size 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 garlic clove very finely minced, or sub with 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup mayo both plant-based and regular mayo works; you can also make your own oil-free mayo at home using my recipe (see notes below)
  • 2 teaspoon chopped Calabrian chili peppers in oil more to taste (plus see notes below for other Calabrian chili options)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Instructions

  • Peel and finely mince your garlic clove. You can also use a fine grater or microplane, but be sure that they're chopped up really small so the flavors meld nicely!
  • Mix all the ingredients until you get a uniform consistency. The oil might not be fully mixed in (you can still see small specks of oil, like in the pictures), but this is completely alright!
  • Do a taste test to see if you've had enough chili, or if you would like more. If using whole Calabrian chiles and you removed the seeds, you might need 1-2 Tablespoons in total, depending on the brand.
  • Serve as a dipping sauce, use as a spread, and enjoy!

Notes

Ingredients Notes
  • Mayonnaise: you can also use this healthy version of No-Oil Mayonnaise (from either cashews or silken tofu) as the base
  • Calabrian chili: I used the chopped Calabrian chili in oil from a jar (picture provided in the blog post above under the “Ingredients” section).
    • If you can’t find them, buy a jar of whole Calabrian chile and chop them up finely. You might want to deseed them to remove excess spiciness.
    • Do NOT use Calabrian chili flakes for this recipe since the flavor will not meld into the aioli.
Tips
  • The spiciness of your chili varies a lot by brand, ripeness of the chili when picked, whether the seeds are included in the mixture, and many other factors. So always start low, taste test, then possibly add more to adjust for the spiciness level!
  • Let it sit in the fridge for at least 5-10 minutes before serving, if you have that extra time. This allows the flavors to meld together beautifully.
  • Feel free to add your favorite herb like parsley, oregano, or basil to jazz this Calabrian mayo up! Adding 1 teaspoon should do the trick!

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